Sunday, September 21, 2014

Hanayamata, Eps. 9-10: Losing My Yosakoi

After last week's cliffhanger, we find out in this episode that Naru was able to recover and continue dancing with the help of her friends. However, from there, the focus shifts to Machi, the student council president and younger sister of yosakoi club advisor Sally-sensei... at least, if the yosakoi club was actually official, which it unfortunately is still not as Sally is only a temporary teacher, and thus cannot be a club advisor.

Can we expect Hanayamata cameos in the upcoming Girls ind Panzer film? (Probably not, but still.)
With the focus on the Tokiwa sisters for these episodes, they will be the source of the lessons I will draw for this post. Expect minor spoilers after the jump.

Hating Your Sister (or Parents or Children or Lover)

There's a lot of resentment between Machi and Sally, as Machi remembers when Sally left the family. Up until then, she had lived as though she was going to inherit the family hospital, and helped Machi with her studies so that they could run the hospital together. However, one day Sally leaves the family, and when Machi tries to show her sister the perfect score she got on a recent test, Sally brushes it off, saying it is not important.

Sally, on her part, had no ill will toward her sister. She had simply found her own dream--to become a teacher, something she started wanting to do while teaching Machi--and wanted to follow it. If Sally acted somewhat rudely, it was likely due to the stress of having to conform to her parents' plans for her life, and now having to go against them and facing their disapproval. In many ways, it looks similar to a Christian defying her family in order to join the faith.

Some of the toughest words to come out of Jesus's mouth comes from Luke 14:26 (ESV):

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple."

"Hate" seems like an awfully strong word to use toward family members. Sure, some Christians will have to defy family in order to follow God, but considering we're supposed to love others, maybe Jesus could have just said "does not love me more than his family" or something gentler? But I think there is a reason Jesus uses the word "hate" here; he's not saying we shouldn't love our family, but that sometimes, in following God, it will look like we hate them.

At a retreat I recently went to, the main speaker mentioned a time when his son was diagnosed with autism, right before their family was to go back overseas for missionary work. The doctors advised him against taking his son with them, saying how he needed to remain in a place with a good special education system. However, knowing that God had called them overseas and had certainly taken into account their son's problem, they went overseas with him, thinking that it must look like to the outside world that they hate their son. (God later provided for them by sending a special education teacher to them, by the way.)

When Sally went to follow her dream, to Machi it looked like she hated her sister. Thankfully, they were able to reconcile once Machi learned the truth. Still, the lesson is clear here: we cannot be too concerned with what others think of us when we follow God, even if they are family. If it looks like to them that we hate our family, while there is certainly room to try to explain things, in the end, we may have to leave them with that feeling of hatred. At the very least, we have to trust God that He can make things right with them again if that is His will.

This might not seem like it has much to do with yosakoi, but it will come up again in episode 11 and perhaps the finale as well.

Losing Your Goal

In episode 10, while the group is at a hot spring resort for a training camp, there is a period of time when the group believes that they won't be performing in the Hanairo Festival that they had been working toward all this time, since no one had submitted an actual application to participate in the festival. This gets most of the group down, until they find out that Machi, the newest member of the group (she joins at the start of the episode), is still practicing yosakoi. This inspires the others to keep practicing yosakoi, simply for the love of the dance. (Their little impromptu performance for the other resort visitors is a really nice scene.)

Sometimes, we have a clear idea of what God wants us to do next. We know we are supposed to witness to these people, or plant a church in this place, or write a blog post on these episodes of this anime. But what do we do when we do not have a clear direction to go? Our ability to follow God even when we do not know where He is taking us is an important part of having faith in Him. In those times, when we cannot be motivated by a clear end goal, we have to realize that a love for God is ultimately all the motivation we need.

In those times, the best thing to do is to just be open to whatever way to serve God comes up, and jump in and do them. Test out various things, and if they are ultimately not where God wants us to go, He will pull us away. I think God would rather have to pull us away from serving Him in certain ways than have to get us started in serving Him in the first place.

And along the way, God may find a new end goal for you. Or he might restore a previously lost end goal. In the case of the yosakoi girls, with the help of the yosakoi shop owner, they get a spot in the Hanairo Festival after all.

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